Pay reference period

Under auto-enrolment rules, this is the period of time over which earnings are to be measured. For example, if an employee is paid weekly, the pay period would be 1 week and if they are paid monthly, the pay period would be 1 month. The minimum pay period is 1 week.

To align with the pay frequency used to calculate PAYE and National Insurance contributions, the pay period can be a tax week, or a tax month. The following scenarios apply:

  • Calendar-week payrolls
  • Calendar-fortnightly payrolls
  • Four-weekly payrolls
  • Tax-week payrolls
  • Calendar-month payrolls – paying in arrears

For more information, read The Pensions Regulator’s ‘guidance on pay reference periods’.